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Maskless lithography has never played more than a niche role in semiconductor manufacturing, but with costs of masks for hard layers rising and the numbers of masks purchased over product lifetimes increasing, there is renewed interest today in maskless lithography. We assess the economics of production application of maskless lithography at the 45-nm technology node assuming the availability of a maskless lithography tool with various throughput capabilities. The analysis finds that selective and shrewd application of maskless lithography to layers with the most expensive masks and shortest mask lives would be economically attractive to many fabrication operations even for 300-mm maskless tool throughputs less than five wafers per hour. While a vendor of the desired maskless tools does not now exist, the business case for such a vendor is shown to be promising.